Understanding Harp Strings: Types, Pros, and Cons

When the harp at home has been used for a while, the strings will break and need to be replaced. However, each type and model of harp has its own specific type of string. The various types of strings can cause confusion when replacing or purchasing new ones. Today, we will introduce the different advantages, disadvantages, and characteristics of each type of string to eliminate any doubts.

Before differentiating between types of strings, we first need to understand the information on the string packaging:

A is the serial number of the string.

B is the order of the octave.

C is the pitch.

D is the name of the string type.

E is the brand name.

1. Natural Gut

Bow Brand Pedal Gut                   Bow Brand Lever Gut

Natural gut strings are not made of sheep gut as their name might suggest, but are actually made from cow gut. They are more expensive per unit and are more fragile and prone to breakage. Therefore, the cost and frequency of replacement with natural gut strings will be higher. However, they have a heavier tension, and the resulting sound is more pleasant. If pursuing perfect sound quality, natural gut strings can be chosen. Generally, the usage period of natural gut strings is about nine months to a year, but it varies depending on each user’s preservation and usage conditions.

Bow Brand Burgundy (Pedal Gut)

Burgundy is actually the same as natural gut strings, but it is a defective version, so its unit price is 20-30% cheaper than normal natural gut strings. If natural gut strings are too expensive, but you still want to enjoy their sound, you can choose Burgundy. However, because this version is defective, the usage period may be shorter than that of regular natural gut strings.

2. Nylon

Bow Brand Pedal Nylon                Silkgut

Nylon strings are usually used in the first octave. They are cheaper than natural gut strings and are more durable, with less need for replacement. However, the tension of nylon strings is lighter, and the resulting sound is more piercing, and they are also more prone to tuning issues. Generally, the usage period of nylon strings is about one to two years, but the lifespan of the strings varies depending on each user’s usage conditions. If the first octave is not used frequently, nylon strings can be used instead of natural gut strings.

3. Synthetic Fiber Mixed Metal Wire

Silkgut Copper

The surface of this type of wire is matte. It has a rich low-end tone and can enhance the sound quality. It is usually used when transitioning from natural gut strings to wire strings as a buffer. Since the sound difference between natural gut strings and wire strings is significant, it can alleviate the difference, making the transition to the low end smoother.

4. Wire

Bow Brand Pedal Wire                Bow Brand Lever Wire

Wire strings start at number 34. The elasticity of wire strings is lower than that of natural gut strings, but because natural gut strings are too prone to breakage, wire strings are generally used starting from the fifth octave. Generally, the usage period of wire strings is about one to two years, similar to synthetic fiber strings.

5. Delta

Delta Harp Strings

Delta strings are only suitable for the Delta electronic harp produced by Salvi Harps. The ordering of Delta strings is different from traditional strings, so be sure to pay attention to the number when purchasing.

After understanding the characteristics of each type of string, you can choose the right string based on your own needs, creating a harp that is suitable for you. However, pedal and lever strings cannot be mixed, but the previous or next string can be used as a replacement if necessary. If there are any areas of uncertainty, it is recommended to seek further advice from a familiar harp shop.

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